Massachusetts Theft Laws: What You Need to Know

Theft is a serious matter in the state of Massachusetts. Many employers automatically disqualify job applicants who have theft convictions on their criminal record. If your current job requires you to hold a special license or certification, like a teacher, you may lose your job. To protect yourself it is helpful if you are familiar with Massachusetts theft laws.

Larceny Defined

Massachusetts theft laws refer to theft and property crimes as larceny. Theft or larceny is the taking of property without the permission of the owner. Theft and property crimes are one of the broadest areas of Massachusetts criminal law. There are many different versions and subtypes of property crimes. There’s embezzlement, larceny by theft, larceny by false pretenses, receiving stolen property, burglary, shoplifting, credit card fraud. No matter what the particular offense is, it’s up to the prosecution to prove guilt beyond any reasonable doubt.

Petty Theft and Grand Theft

The value of the stolen property is what determines whether a theft is a Petty Theft or Grand Theft. If the stolen property is worth $250 or less, it is Petty Theft. Petty Theft is a misdemeanor and has the lowest fines, up to $300 and the lowest jail time, up to one year.

If the property is worth more than $250, it becomes Grand Theft, a felony. Grand Theft has a maximum punishment of 5 years in the state penitentiary and a maximum fine of $25,000.

Massachusetts theft laws also consider the type of property stolen. If it’s a firearm, it’s Grand Theft and is punishable by up to five years, no matter what the value of the firearm is. In the case of stealing a vehicle, or Grand Theft Auto, the suspect could be facing up to 15 years in jail. The law also considers who the victim is in the crime. If the victim is 65 years or older, the suspect could be facing up to 5 years in jail.


Burglary is a serious type of theft when someone breaks into another person’s home with the intent to steal their property. A burglary can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the characteristics of the case. If the victim physically harmed for example or the suspect broke in during the night, the court is more likely to rule it a felony.

Punishments for burglary could include a little jail time and probation if no one was hurt and the property was of little value. It could be a life sentence if the burglary included assault or was carried out with a firearm.


Robbery different from basic theft because it is a violent crime. If you assault someone with the purpose of stealing from him, it is a felony. Even the theft is unsuccessful it is still a felony. Massachusetts theft laws don’t require you to actually hurt or even touch the victim for it to be a robbery. Simply intimidating someone is enough to qualify the crime as a robbery and a felony. An example would be someone robbing a liquor store at gunpoint. Often no one is hurt, but the employee behind the register hands over the money because they are intimidated.

Identity Theft

Identity theft or identity fraud is using someone else’s identifying information such as their name, birth date, driver’s license number, social security number, or bank account number to make purchases, take out credit, or obtain services. The crime usually involves accessing the victim’s financial accounts and ends in ruining their credit score. If someone uses your identifying information without permission, it’s fraud. On the other hand, if you give someone permission to use your credit card, it’s not fraud. If found guilty of identity theft in Massachusetts, you could spend up to two and a half years in county jail and pay a fine of up to $5,000.

Receiving Stolen Property

Receiving stolen property seems like an indirect form of theft. But it could still land you in jail with a felony charge. If someone gives you or you knowingly purchase stolen goods, that is receiving stolen property. If you weren’t aware that the goods were stolen when you received them, but you find out later and don’t come forward, that’s assisting the concealment of stolen goods.

Just as in other cases of theft, whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor depends on the value of the property in question. If the property is less than $250, it’s a misdemeanor. The punishment is up to two and a half years in jail or a maximum fine of $250. If the property is more than $250, it’s a felony. The punishment is up to five years in jail or two and a half years in jail, and the fine could be up to $500.

Learn More About Massachusetts Theft Laws

If you or a loved one need help with a theft case, get a Boston shoplifting attorney with a good track record. Any of these charges can lead to difficulties finding employment in the future. If you have an experienced lawyer as your advocate gives you a better chance of protecting your future.